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Darasa Maisha Project Launched

‘DARASA MAISHA – THE LIFE CLASS’ PROJECT

A linking and learning project for Secondary School students

 

Introduction

St. Martin CSA as a capacity building organization has endevoured to empower various categories of people in its target area to facilitate social transformation. Among the categories of people that St Martin has worked with are young people in and out of school. They have a great potential to be transformed and impact their communities positively despite facing many challenges related to the fast changing environment in which they live. These capacity building activities were implemented only on request from the schools and other organized groups in the surrounding communities. However despite the high demand for youth friendly services and the value placed on young people who form a very big portion of Kenya’s population, there existed no structured approach within St Martin in addressing these needs.

The organization has also worked in collaboration with Fondazione Fontana in Italy where linking and learning programs have been implemented in selected schools in Italy. The program is geared towards sharing experiences of Africa and Europe on various selected topics. This has in turn enabled the participants to appreciate and sometimes challenge how things are done in their own country. It has also provided a platform for enhanced cooperation and collaboration among communities in the two countries. From the experience and the lessons learnt from the Italian Schools Program, a need was felt to have a similar program in Kenya to be implemented by the two institutions. This is aimed at enhancing learning through sharing of experiences and promoting the spirit of cooperation and collaboration.

Justification of the project   

Social media has become one of the most active platforms for communication and networking in Kenya especially among young people. Kenya in turn has one of the most active online populations in Africa with users increasing in number every day. The most used new media platforms are Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Youtube. Social media platforms in Kenya have gained different uses other than just allowing one to grow their network, it has become a tool for people to sell their services and products online, build discussion forums, mobilize crowds for blood drives, disaster management and many more uses. However, there is also another side where social media has been used to spread hate messages and insults. Unfortunately, there have been cases where young people have been prosecuted and jailed for breaking the law through social media. Such cases highlight the need for empowering young people on responsible use of the new media.

Young people in Kenya being much like their counterparts around the globe: digital and social media are an integral part of their lives. Many of them use digital and social media in a private space that they often lack in their offline, adult-controlled lives. With many of them engaging in risky behaviors, they have low awareness of the risks involved. These risks are exacerbated by the lack of digital know-how among parents and educators; adults’ attempts to control what they don’t understand; and the ease of access to entertainment and pornography compared to positive uses of technologies for education and empowerment.

Young people have increased access to the internet through the increased availability of web enabled mobiles phones. They now consider digital and social media to be an integral part of their lives that creates a private space which they lack in their offline life. As such some of them engage in risky behaviors although they have low awareness on the risks involved. To complicate the situation further, there is a substantial gap between these young people’s digital media skills and behavior and their parents’ awareness of what they are up to while on line. These create the need to empower them on responsible use of social media for worthwhile activities despite the limited parental guidance.

Project Description

The  project  seeks to introduce secondary schools students in Kenya to issues of global concern. This would be achieved by using creative and interactive ways to stimulate discussions and reflections among a facilitative group of form two students at Nyahururu Boys High School. The facilitative group would then reach out to the rest of the school.

The aim of the project

The goal is to share knowledge and foster a positive attitude towards the use of social media in creating social transformation. The empowered students would then create action plans to influence their peers’ worldview by sharing their experiences and knowledge.

The objectives of the project are:

  • To give the students an opportunity to explore and share on the various social media platforms available to them and learn how to use them
  • To brainstorm on the benefits and risks involved in use of social media
  • To identify relevant opportunities presented by social media
  • To develop action plans to share their experiences with their peers and influence them to use social media positively
  • To empower St Martin CSA staff in empowering young people in and out of schools in life related issues

Target

The project  target to reach:

  1. 20 to 30 students and a teacher from Nyahururu High School. Participation is  based on the student’s interest in form two. The students are allowed to express interest and demonstrate their suitability to participate in the project. The intention is to have a small group that is highly committed and motivated to participate in the proposed activities.
  2. 10 St Martin staff who are directly involved in the project for the purposes of being empowered in the area of working with young people.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Impact: Creative and responsible students in the target schools

Outcome 1: Increased positive use of social media platforms by Nyahururu high school students

Output 1: Empowered students who appreciate the opportunities and risks presented by the social media

Output 2: Enhanced capacity of students in using the social media

Activities

  1. Discussions and Inputs - the students will  hold discussions and receive inputs on social media, how it works and the advantages and disadvantages. They will also demonstrate to each other how popular social media sites work. These sessions will be participatory in nature ensuring that all involved, both the students and the staff, take an active role.
  2. Action planning – the students prepare action plans for the use of knowledge and skills gained from the project. These action plans will include how they intend to reach out to fellow students as well other people that they come into contact with.

These will be achieved in seven sessions spread over the course of the year 2015; each session lasting for about one hour at a time when the school will find appropriate, either after class hours or weekends.

Outcome 2: Increased capacity of St Martin CSA staff in empowering the youth

Output 3: Improved ability of staff in identifying suitable methodologies for capacity building the youth

Activities

  1. Participate in the development of the project, from identification of the topics to facilitation of the sessions. These will be done in consultation with Fondazione Fontana staff.
  2. Conduct a workshop in which Fondazione Fontana will share their experience and knowledge in working with the schools.
  3. Conduct a feedback and evaluation session from Fontana Staff and also from the students.

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